ANCHORAGE, Alaska – With his apparent suicide in an Alaska jailhouse, a man who confessed to killing a barista in Anchorage and a couple in Vermont leaves behind one big question: Whom else did he kill?
Israel Keyes, who authorities say once lived north of Spokane in Stevens County, told police in Alaska he traveled around the country for more than a decade and claims he killed at least four people in Washington and one in New York.
As of late last week, the admitted killer was still divulging information about his activities. On Sunday, Keyes was dead. Authorities wouldn’t say how he killed himself, only that he was alone in his cell. They also did not say whether he left a note.
For now, authorities are trying to find out exactly whom the construction contractor killed.
So far, “there’s no indication that he was lying,” FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said, adding that Keyes’ DNA has been put in an FBI database available for other law enforcement agencies to use in their own investigations. Officials believe there are more victims in other states, but acknowledge that they may never know who they were.
“We’re going to continue to run down leads and continue our efforts to identify his victims so we can bring some closure to the families,” said Mary Rook, the FBI supervisor in Alaska.
Keyes lived in Washington from 2001 to March 2007, at which time he moved to Alaska, said Gonzalez.
“Keyes admitted to murdering four people in Washington; he killed two people (independent of each other) sometime during 2005 and 2006, and murdered a couple in Washington between 2001 and 2005,” Gonzalez said. “It is unknown if these victims were residents of Washington or if they were vacationing in Washington but resided in another state. It is also possible Keyes abducted them from a nearby state and transported them to Washington.”
Investigators believe that Keyes did not know any of his victims prior to their abductions, authorities said. He often looked for his victims in remote areas, such as parks, campgrounds, trailheads, cemeteries and boating areas.
While under arrest in connection with the disappearance of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig, Keyes confessed to the deaths of Bill and Lorraine Currier, of Essex, Vt., who disappeared in June 2011, authorities said.
Officials confirmed Monday that Keyes killed the Curriers. Keyes described details that had not been released publicly.
Authorities in Alaska said Keyes traveled extensively, driving hundreds of miles for victims after landing at a distant airport. Keyes flew from Alaska to Chicago with the intent of kidnapping and killing someone, drove to Vermont and picked the Curriers, a couple in their 50s.
Keyes moved to Alaska from Washington state in 2007 to start a construction business. He also owned property in upstate New York, near the Canadian border.
Ayn Dietrich, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Seattle, said agents are reviewing unsolved murders across the state to determine whether Keyes might have been responsible for any of them.
Authorities in Stevens and Spokane counties said he wasn’t a suspect in any unsolved cases.